China’s Water Woes—an epic challenge

A man or woman can survive for weeks without food but only days without water. Knowing that, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Tibet will stay in China for some time and water may be the reason.

The Yellow River and Yangtze start in Tibet serving more than a third of China’s population—more than 400 million people. It’s possible that Mao realized the importance of water from Tibet when he sent 40,000 PRC troops to reoccupy the former troublesome province/tributary that at the urging of the British Empire’s broke from China in 1913 and declared its independence as a theocracy ruled by a Dalai Lama known as a living god.

Tibet has an area of about 1.3 million square kilometers (about 5 million square miles) and it is estimated that there are less than 3 million people living in Tibet. China, on the other hand, serves more than 1.3 billion people, so who benefits the most from water that starts its journey in Tibet?

Rajendra K. Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and winner of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, said, “At least 500 million people in Asia and 250 million people in China are at risk from declining glacial flows on the Tibetan Plateau.” Source: Circle of Blue Waternews

If Tibet’s water were in the hands of anyone else like a free Tibet that might favor other nations over China, China’s future would be dim at best and dire in a worst-case scenario. As it is, China is one of the earth’s driest areas and the challenge to supply more than 1.3 billion people with water is a daunting task. In fact, China is in a race with disaster and the end of that race will be reached in a few decades.

Today, water and waste pollution is the single most serious issue facing China.

While replacing thousands of older, coal-burning power plants with cleaner technologies, building more hydroelectric dams, and constructing nuclear reactors, China is also adding desalinations plants to ease the growing water crises. In 2005, a desalination facility south of Shanghai started producing about 375,000 gallons of fresh water an hour, with a goal to build more plants and produce 250 million gallons of water per day by 2010. Source: Environmental News Network

In fact, to achieve this, China contracted with IDE Technologies in Kadima, Israel to build four new desalination units and the first went on line near Beijing in 2010. These plants are designed to provide desalinated seawater for a power plant’s steam boilers as well as drinking water for local residents.

An ABC News report on September 13, 2013, said that China was building mega desalination plants to address water shortages. “China has about 20% of the world’s population but only 7% of the world’s fresh water reserves.”

China plans to more than triple its production of desalinated water to 2.2 million cubic meters a day by 2015 according to the Chinese Development and Reform Commission. Source:

And this isn’t all that China is doing to deal with its water woes. China is building an aqueduct—some of it underground known as the South-North Water Transfer Project—that may rival China’s Great Wall as a construction project that will cost twice as much as the Three Gorges Dam. The completed aqueduct will be slightly over 716 miles long.

China also plans to build 100 dams in Tibet—not only to generate electricity but to store much needed water for its more than 1.3 billion people. Both projects are controversial.


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

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8 Responses to China’s Water Woes—an epic challenge

  1. Josefina says:

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  2. Teepee12 says:

    In many parts of the world, it’s all about water. For example: the headwaters of the Jordan River are in the Golan Heights. Israel will never let Syria have control of their only water source. Would you?

    • No! the leaders of any country who allows an enemy to control some or all of that country’s water source is a country that will not last long.

      Have you seen or read the National Geographic specials on water? One billion people do not have access to a clean or reliable source of water.


      • Teepee12 says:

        I worked for five years at the University of Jerusalem’s Environmental Health Laboratory. We were all about water and that was in the 1980s. Its SO much worse now. Our own southwest is in terrible peril and the idiots don’t even KNOW it. How can people be so blind? And foolish.

      • “Blind and foolish” explains it all. Over on Crazy Normal, one of my other blogs I research and write about education and parenting, and for decades there has been an erosion in parenting skills and a constant and organized war being waged against the public schools painting them as failures when in fact, they have been improving steadily without any dramatic declines. High School graduation rates and literacy rates have all improved slowly on average but you will never hear this from either extreme.

        First, in the 1960s there was a popular parenting movement that focused on building a false sense of self-esteem in kids. This private sector parent movement as it grew eventually started to put pressure on the public schools to dumb down the curriculum and make it easier to earn A’s so kids would feel better about themselves and have a high sense of self-esteem.

        Meanwhile, there was other movements from other extremes to privatize education in the United States and this movement is based on profit/political/religious motives. Funding for the public schools in the US costs about $1 Trillion annually and this is one target—for the private sector to get their hands on that money and boost profits for corporations. One of the biggest movers to privatize education is the Walton family whose wealth comes from the Wall-Mart stores.

        Another motive is to have taxpayers fund private, religious schools where kids would be indoctrinated into fundamentalist Christian beliefs–if successful, this would lead to the West version of The Middle East’s Saudi funded Wahhabi schools that led to the Islamic fundamentalist movement and terrorism through al Qaeda.

        None of these movements actually cares anything about education children to learn how to solve problems, think creatively and outside the box and be highly literate. That is not the goal of any of these movements.

        The result has led to the average American parents spending less than 3.5 minutes a week in meaningful conversation with children and of course the dumbing down of an America that has become obsessed with video games and texting; children’s fantasy cartoon movies that often make more money than thought provoking films; etc.

        An ignorant population is so much easier to control than one that is highly literate and questions what’s going on. And this is what America’s Founding Fathers warned us about—these were educated and wealthy men who despised democracy and they did not build a democracy in the United States. The democracy the US is today came about in the early 20th century due to changes in the government and voting laws.

        Therefore, America’s decline started when it stopped being a republic and became a democracy. Watch the video and you will see what I mean. The country was built on biblical principals but not on religious principals. The Founding Fathers did not create a theocracy where a religion ruled America—I wanted to make that clear. The Founding Fathers, even if they were atheists or deists and did not belong to a religion, all new what the Bible says.

        You may be interested in reading this entry in the Encyclopaedia Britannica Blog about “The U.S. Founding Fathers: Their Religious Beliefs”

      • Teepee12 says:

        Actually, I agree. They were very clear on this NOT being a theocracy. Chrystal clear and I do not understand what it is that others don’t understand. I don’t think anything else in the constitution was stated as forthrightly.

      • What others don’t understand:

        It’s a case of what truth you grew up to believe. There are many truths but most are wrong and will only lead to failure and misery in the long run.

        How we grow up; where we grow up, and who our parents and friends are molds us to think a certain way. When we are born, our minds are pretty much a clean slate. There is some evidence that we are influenced in the womb by our parents lifestyle, but that influence is usually very small compared to the first six years of life outside the womb—the exception might be drug babies or children born with severe mental and/or physical challenges.

        Those first six years form the foundation that guides most of us through life. Someone raised in a devout Catholic home have one truth; someone raised by parents who belong to the US Nazi party and who are white supremacists have another truth; and someone raised in a home where there are no books, newspapers and magazines and the TV is on most of the day will believe one truth compared to a home where the parents read all the time from all three printed media and the TV is turned off most of the time will have children grow up to believe another truth. One truth leads to illiteracy, malnutrition and poverty and the other truth leads to Stanford or Harvard and a secure work future; a longer life on average and a better died, etc.

        Each child is programed by the parents and that environment and that lifestyle they grew up with leads them to think and believe what they were programmed by that life to believe.

        I just finished reading Chapter 14 in Diane Ravitch’s “Reign of Error” and she provides a perfect example in that chapter as she points out all the flaws behind Teach for America [TFA]. It would be difficult to find a more misguided program that has been successful at gaining support and tons of donated money because so many wealthy Americans believe the claims of truth that are so wrong as a great PR machine continues to sell a program that has failed miserably but few will look close enough to see that failure. They are in denial or are blind, dumb and deaf to the truth about this stupid program because they hold on to the failed truth that they believe in no matter what thew end may be.

        And some people—no matter how much evidence proves them wrong—will refuse to give up the truth they believe in. Nothing will convince them they are wrong to believe what they believe. They will go to their graves with that belief.

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